There is nothing quite like a breakup to make you realize just how digital our relationships have become. I'm not talking about online dating--I'm talking about the digital fingerprint that people leave on our lives. It's so much bigger than deleting a contact. First you have to unfriend/unfollow them on every social media site. You may or may not untag pictures. And then you're done, right?
Nope. Just getting started. I've particularly struggled with my last breakup because of the whole long-distance thing. It puts a lot of your relationship online. Do you delete all the pictures? Or save them to some buried file so that you still have a few in fifty years when you're over it? (On top of that, my ex worked somewhere that created apps, among other things. My phone was a museum of our relationship.) I found a small bit of relief when I had to replace my phone and his apartment wireless stopped popping up on my list of wi-fi options. (Out of range, of course, but still in my phone's memory.)
Do you save anything from old relationships? I have a friend who has an item of clothing from each of her exes. For me, it's music. I've discovered that I always end up accumulating music because of boyfriends. I can tell you the favorite band of every ex-boyfriend--at least, whatever his favorite band was while we were together. It's because those bands still pop up on my itunes. It's the only thing I feel comfortable keeping around. When the end is fresh and still shitty, I skip past them. But deleting them always feels like an injustice. Those bands ended up on my ipod because I liked the way my boyfriend talked about them. I liked their excitement about having me listen to a favorite song. I ended up liking a lot of those songs...so they stay.
On one visit, the Ex filled up a flash drive with music I should try. Admittedly, I only liked some of it--but I gave it a try. When it was over, some of those things went the way of his company's apps. And sorry, but I'll never like E.T.--so that score was out. As I deleted files, I was feeling better. I was pulling him out of my life. But then I got to the favorites--the ones he wanted me to hear. The ones he was excited to talk about. And I hesitated. Maybe one day those songs won't make me angry--they'll just go in the gallery of exes and join the list of bands I like because a cute boy said I might.